Colorful lakelets (Kolorowe Jeziorka) located in Rudawy Janowickie are interestingly colored artificial ponds formed in place of former pyrite mines at the slope of Wielka Kopa mountain in the Lower Silesia region. In 2011, lakelets were chosen by the National Geographic Traveler as one of the new seven wonders of Poland!
The lakes are a result of mining in the area that took place between 1785 and 1925. Mined pyrite was used to produce sulfuric acid, which was needed for gunpowder production. And when the mining stopped, nature took over and filled the post-mine workings with rainwater, creating phenomenal lakes. The color of water in reservoirs is related to the chemical composition of the walls and bottom of workings.
There are four lakes in total: yellow, purple, blue, and green. Their color depends highly on the time of day when you visit and the amount of rain.
The oldest excavation in the area was called Hoffnung, meaning Hope, and consists of the first two lakes – Yellow and Purple (200 m from the park entrance). The Yellow Lake is the youngest one, and 20 years ago, there was no water there. To admire it in full splendor, it is best to come in spring, when a lot of water collects in the lakes after the thaw. The Yellow lake lies at an altitude of approx 560 m above sea level. And for most of the year, it looks like an overgrown puddle. The lake owes its yellow color to the presence of sulfur and calcium. Personally, I would say it was more greenish than yellow, but if we tilted our head a little and closed one eye, we could see the tint of yellow there 😀
The Purple Lake, owning its color to an aqueous solution of sulfuric acid, copper, iron, and pyrite compounds, had more like a dirty brownish color instead of purple like what we expected.
Beyond these two lakes (600m further), the Blue Lake fills in Neuegs Glück excavation (New Happiness). It lies higher than the previous ones, precisely 635 m above sea level. It owes its color to copper irons. Unlike Purple Lake, its water is pure and devoid of sulfuric odors. Depending on the weather conditions, the water in the Blue Lake has different shades. For us, it was more greenish than blue but let’s not be picky:P. The lake is very deep as the excavation is over 20 m deep.
The highest situated (1 km further), small Green Lake, is a remnant of the Gustav Grube excavation. It is located 730 m above sea level. It is sometimes also referred to as a Black Lake as it can take an intense graphite color. When we visited, one of the hikers told us that the green lake was unfortunately dried up, so we decided not to hike 1km extra kilometer just to see a hole. Later we found out it is often the case, and there needs to rain a lot for it to show up.
If you follow the trail for one more kilometer, you will reach the top of Wielka Kopa mountain. I heard it was a nice hike, but we were racing the setting sun, so we had to skip it this time.
That depends. I loved the hike. It was a chill, relaxing walk with great views. We arrived pretty late when the sun was setting, and the forest, with the rays of the sun piercing through the trees, looked unbelievable. Five newlyweds couples having their photo session there can confirm it!
The lakes themselves were not entirely what we expected. They didn’t have the colors they were supposed to, but nonetheless, they looked unique and interesting.
That being said, we were also lucky, as there was a lot of rainfall during the previous week, and the lakes managed to form. From what I read online, their existence is sometimes hit and miss.
There are a lot of parking lots right at the entrance of Rudawy Landscape Park. Funnily enough, the closer you get, the cheaper it will become. The parking lots located the furthest cost 15 PLN, and if you continue towards the entrance, the price drops to 5 PLN.